Should I Go to College? What Are the Options Besides College?

Not every job requires a four-year college degree

If you’re a high school senior, you probably feel the pressure every time someone asks, “Where are you going to college?” College is a great opportunity for many students, but for others, college may simply not be in the cards. That’s nothing to be ashamed of! College may not be for everyone, and that’s okay.

Many people choose not to go to college for a whole lot of good reasons, such as:

  • “College is too expensive. I can’t afford it, and I don’t want to go into debt.”
  • “College has too many academic requirements.”
  • “I like to work with my hands. College doesn’t have that many hands-on career options.”
  • “I’m more interested in the hands-on programs at career training schools.”
  • “College takes too long—I want to get a job faster.”
  • “I have to help support the family. I can’t go to college full-time.”
  • “I’m not sure what I want to do yet.”
  • “Class sizes are too big at my local college. I don’t want to feel like just a number.”
  • “I can’t get into any of the colleges that I wanted.”

If this sounds like you, then you might want to consider some alternatives to college that will help boost your marketable skills without an expensive four-year commitment.

Should I go to college?

One alternative to a four-year degree is career-focused training. Career-focused training is just what it sounds like: Training that is focused on career skills—without all the extra academic requirements. With this kind of targeted approach, most training programs can have you ready for the job market in just about one year.

Take a look at some of the options for career-focused training:

Professional Medical Assistant

Medical assistants work in doctors’ offices to provide clinical support and administrative assistance. If you’ve been to a doctor’s office lately, you’ve probably met a medical assistant. They are usually the ones who check you in, take your vital signs, and set you up in your room to wait for the physician.

Massage Therapist

Massage therapy has become more mainstream in the past decade or so. More and more people are enjoying the benefits of massage. Some people get massages just for relaxation and stress relief. Others are getting massages for medical reasons. Getting trained as a massage therapist is a great choice if you believe in wellness, fitness, and healthy lifestyles. It’s also great for people who like to work with their hands and stay active on the job.

Dental Assistant

Dental assistants work in dental offices and provide support to the dentist, including chair-side assistance during procedures. They may also handle some behind-the-scenes administrative duties, and well as some tasks in the dental lab. (But dental assistants are different from hygienists; dental hygienist training requires an associate’s degree.)

Medical Billing and Coding Specialist (Health Claims Specialist)

If you love the idea of healthcare, but don’t necessarily want to work directly with sick patients, then an office job may be a better fit. Medical billing and coding specialists handle insurance claims and billing procedures. They usually work in medical offices or hospitals, or sometimes at insurance companies or outside billing agencies.

Home Health Aide, Nursing Assistant, or Practical Nurse

These entry level nursing positions can provide a good option for people interested in working in nursing homes or providing at-home care. You don’t need a full nursing degree for these jobs, but you will need training. In some states, you will need to get licensed.

Surgical Technician

This job path is perfect for someone who has always wondered what it would be like to work in an operating room. Surgical technicians assist during operations by ensuring that a sterile environment is maintained and helping to prepare the operating room for the next procedure.

HVAC/R, Electricians, Welders, Sheet Metal Workers, Plumbers

For those who like to work with their hands, a career in the trades could be a good option. Most programs at community colleges or trade schools can prepare you with the needed skills in less than one year.

Computer Networking Management

If you love computers, but don’t want to get a full computer science degree, you may be able to find training near you in computer networking management. With training like this, you could become a help-desk technician, network support specialist, field service technician, or a technical support specialist.

Culinary Arts

Culinary arts is rapidly evolving, and chefs are constantly coming up with new and creative ways to prepare and present interesting foods. While becoming a chef takes many years of experience, there are entry level positions for culinary arts specialists that allow you to eventually move up the ladder. Getting trained in a culinary arts program can prepare you with the right skills for this field.

Pharmacy Technician

While training to be a pharmacist requires a college degree, a pharmacy technician is different. Pharm techs assist in a retail pharmacy by filling orders and managing the administrative end of running the pharmacy. Some pharm techs work in hospital pharmacies too.

The list above represents just a sampling of the types of careers you can get without a college degree. Getting more education after high school—even if it’s not college—is a great way to get marketable skills. With your new skills, you can begin a career path that is personally gratifying, challenging, and something to be proud of!


This article is provided by Seacoast Career Schools in Sanford, Maine (York County). If you are looking for medical assisting schools in the Biddeford/Sanford area, Seacoast’s Sanford campus may be right for you. We have small class sizes and we accept applications year-round. We are currently offering career-focused training in Professional Medical Assisting and Massage Therapy.

To find out more about enrolling in career-focused training at Seacoast, reach out to us! It only takes a moment and could be the beginning of your next step in life!

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